The New Norms of Climate Chaos
Oh dread, I thought when the weather alert popped up on the screen this morning: heavy rain expected from noon to midnight. So much for my intentions to work on the wood pile, garden or other outdoor projects. And this might damped the excitement of Ann’s family’s drive to Columbia today to see little Henry.
I flipped on the WEATHER button since I’d had Google Earth up on the screen for the purpose of visualizing the places I have lived as I think more about “sense of place.”
Yep, there were the storms sweeping across the mid-section of the country, not quite here yet, so I’ll have time to fetch in more dry wood to stay warm til the storm’s past. More rain along the Pacific Coast, a good bit more down along the western edge of South America, too. I zoomed out until the planet filled the screen, pole to pole, and gave it a spin so that it would keep turning slowly–this always amazes me as much as it did the first time I did it a few years back when this amazing software was born.
And what I realized is that the US and South America have rain; Europe has some rain in places now. It is no great surprise that Africa is bone dry. But so is Austrialia, just this side of a “thousand year drought”. And more alarmingly, no rain is falling over the vast expanse of India or China. Nowhere!
China is in the midst of a “hundred year drought” and still extending that diminished volume into the record books. Twenty million (other sources say 60 million) are without drinking water (let alone enough for showers or for crops) in southwest China today. The hydroelectric dams have fallen below minimum levels and crop production has been cut by more than half, and the nation may soon have to import corn from the US (so our gas prices will go up since 1/4 of our gas is biofuel from corn.)
I’d known of the Asian drought, but it’s another thing to see the abundance of water that will sweep over SWVA today, and spin the tiny planet a half-whirl and see not a drop falling on those who would gladly and thankfully suffer the inconvenience of a day of rain. Google Earth is the greatest “reality” show on the planet, a visual education that ought to change the way we think about our tiny places on the planet.
Can this drought be credited to “climate change”? No, no one event–hurricane, snowfall, or flood–can be proven to be due to elevated average global temperature. Is this consistent with the kind of “abnormal” shifts we might expect as air-mass movement patterns respond to continental and marine temperature changes and the altered albedo, desertification, snow-pack reduction, and altered ocean currents that result from them? Yes.
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- South China Drought Worsens (abcnews.go.com)